What is Dog Man? I hear you say. If you are a parent of a primary school student, you will be very familiar with this hilarious graphic novel series about a man with a dog head solving crime.
Dav Pilkey is the creator behind Dog Man (previously of Captain Underpants fame). Launched in 2016 by Scholastic, there are ten books in the series. It has received starred reviews from School Library Journal and Publishers Weekly. In 2021 in the USA, Pilkey boasted three of the year's top 25 bestselling print books overall and five of the top 25 on the children's print list, and was #1 overall with the 10th book in the Dog Man series, Mothering Heights, with sales nearing 1.3 million USD.
So what happens when your child reads all ten books in the series? Where to next?
The most obvious answer is Cat Kid Comic Club which is also by Dav Pilkey. Launched in Dec 2020, it too made the 2021 bestsellers list in the US. There are currently two books in the Cat Kid series, with a third due to be launched on 5th April 2022.
Don't worry, Dav Pilkey isn't the only author of graphic novels. There are many more excellent options for our primary school readers.
Younger Readers (Kids Aged 6-8)
Here are some of our favourites for younger readers. These are not in any particular order.
- Banana Fox Series by James Kochalka - launched in February 2021. This series has two books, with a third due in May 2022. This laugh out loud graphic novel explores the hilarious antics of the great detective- Banana Fox. You can find book one here and book two here.
- Norma and Belly series by Mika Song. There are two books in this series. Donut Feed the Squirrels and Apple of My Pie. Norma and Belly are two cheeky squirrels who will do anything for food—receiving starred reviews from Booklist and Publishers Weekly. Publishers Weekly wrote, "Drawing with graceful ink lines and coloured wash. Song capitalises on comic moments... Norma and Belly are never snarky; instead, they present a consistent mix of enterprise, wit, and cheer."
- Baby-Sitters Little Sister Graphic Novels based on the novels of Ann M. Martin, illustrated by Katy Farina. This is a spin-off series from the Ann M. Martin Baby-Sitters Club series. It is intended for a younger audience and is more suitable for children aged 6/7.
- Arlo and Pip Series by Elise Gravel. Arlo and Pips #1 has been listed in the Junior Library Guild Selection, Chicago Public Library Best of the Best, New York Public Library's Best Books for Kids. It is an early graphic chapter book series about the friendship between Arlo, an arrogant crow, and a sarcastic little bird named Pips. Full of informative facts about crows, it is a fun, light-hearted series that will entertain. You can find out more here.
- Grumpy Unicorn Series by Joey Spiotto. In this collection of laugh-out-loud stories, Grumpy introduces us to his friends like Sassy the Sasquatch and Jack the Jackelope, takes us camping and on road trips, causes a major dust-up at a museum, and more. You can find the books here.
For Older Readers (Kids Aged 7-12)
There are many fantastic graphic novels for this age group. Raina Telgemeier Guts series, The Baby-Sitters Club graphic novels series, Ghost, Drama etc., are all brilliant options. As are graphic novels by Shannon Hale (Real Friends Series and Princess Black Series), Remy Lai (Pawcasso and Pie in the Sky), Cece Bel (El Deafo), Kayla Miller's books (Click, Camp, and the Besties Work It Out Series). We have compiled a list of our favourites that you may not know about or haven't come across yet.
These are our favourites for older readers.
- Mr Wolf's Class Series by Aron Nels Steinke. A delightful series set in a primary school. Eisner award-winning cartoonist Steinke perfectly captures everyday school life. Mr Wolf's Class #1 was the Winner (younger readers) of the Red Dot Award for 2020/2021. The Red Dot student choice book awards is an annual event organised by the International School Libraries Network in Singapore. There are currently four books in this series, with the fifth, Snow Day, released on 5th April. You can pre-order a copy here.
- CatStronauts by Drew Brockington. Consistently featured on must-read lists. CatStronauts is listed by the New York Public Library as a "Great Graphic Novel To Add To Your Classroom Library". When the world is plunged into darkness due to a global energy shortage, the World's Best Scientist comes up with a bold plan to set up a solar power plant on the moon. But someone has to go up there to set it up. That adventure falls to the CatStronauts, the world's best space cats! Meet the fearless commander Major Meowser, brave-but-hungry pilot Waffles, genius technician and inventor Blanket, and quick thinking science officer Pom Pom on their most important mission yet.
- Amulet Series by Kazu Kabushi in this #1 New York Times Best Selling series, published by Scholastic. It follows the adventures of Emily, a young girl who discovers a magical amulet in her grandmother's house. An incredibly popular fantasy series. There are currently eight books in the series.
- When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed, Multi Award-winning graphic novel is about growing up in a refugee camp, as told by a former Somali refugee to the Newbery Honor-winning creator of Roller Girl. Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, have spent most of their lives in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. Life is hard there: never enough food, achingly dull, and without access to the medical care Omar knows his nonverbal brother needs. So when Omar has the opportunity to go to school, he knows it might be a chance to change their future . . . but it would also mean leaving his brother, the only family member he has left, every day. A heartwarming and eye-opening read. Also, check out Alls Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson.
- Shirley and Jamilla by Gillian Goerz is a relatively new graphic novel series. There is only one book at the moment, Shirley and Jamila Save Their Summer. Book Two, Shirley and Jamila's Big Fall, will be released in Australia in late March 2022. Jamila Waheed is staring down a lonely summer in a new neighbourhood-until she meets Shirley Bones. Sure, Shirley's a little strange, but both girls need a new plan for the summer, and they might as well become friends. Then Oliver shows up begging for Shirley's help. His pet gecko has disappeared, and he's sure it was stolen. That's when Jamila discovers Shirley's secret: She's the neighbourhood's best kid detective, and she's on the case. When Jamila finds she's got some detective skills of her own, a crime-solving partnership is born. Book One in the series received a starred review from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly. Kirkus wrote, "Goerz is a master of character development, making no one into a villain and no one into a saint and giving each a fascinating role to play. . . . An action-packed graphic novel about finding and forgiving our closest friends."
We also have some exciting news. On 1st April 2022, we will be launching an exciting new Graphic Novel Subscription Club called the "Graphic Owl Club". As with all of our subscriptions, we will be bringing you books you may not have seen before sourced from around the world. We will have at least one new release book and a second book that we adore. You can choose if you want one or two books a month. So if you know of someone (aged 8-12 years) who would love to have new graphic novels sent to them every month, sign up today!
Dav Pilkey Dominated the 2021 Bestseller List, John Maher, Publishers Weekly, 7th January 2022
Great Graphic Novels to Add to Your Classroom Library by Kaitlin Rotella, School Outreach Librarian, Youth Educational Services, 27th April, 2021